article by: Contributor Courage Louviere
On October 31st, 1980, Rocky Mountain College presented its first major fundraising event. Rather than the formal dinners and polite silent auctions that we know today, funds were raised in true Montana style, in the form of a cattle auction. Under the presidency of Bruce T. Alton, the first annual “Rocky Mountain Round- up” raised $8,529 for Rocky Mountain College by auctioning off cattle donated by local ranchers. In a New York Times article dated November 2, 1980, President Alton is quoted saying, “It is unique. However, there are a lot of ranchers who are short on cash, but have a steer handy and don’t mind letting us have it.” This four-day event included joke telling, a Western theme, and a steak dinner along with the judging of the cattle. M.E. Eddleman, a member of the board of trustees during this time, predicted that this event would be “the social event of the year.”
Mr. Eddlman’s prediction proved true. The tradition continues as we prepare for this year’s 29th Annual Black Tie Blue Jeans Scholarship Benefit. Although the name and the fundraiser has transformed significantly since the 1980’s, raising money to help make education affordable still lies at the heart of this event. Rather than a cattle auction taking place at the local auction grounds, the benefit now takes place on campus. Fortin Education Center is transformed into a beautiful and elegant venue where over 500 guests are treated to a dinner, live music, and both a live and silent auction.
Kelly Edwards, vice president of institutional advancement, explained that “99% of Rocky students receive student scholarships. In 2014, Black Tie Blue Jeans raised $322,000 toward these scholarships. Last year, Black Tie Blue Jeans raised $421,000, an increase of nearly $100,000. This year’s goal is to exceed last year with a goal of $500,000.”
All of the funds raised contribute to a general scholarship fund that helps to nance all of the Rocky-based scholarships. If you are one of the many students with an academic or athletic scholarship from Rocky Mountain College, you have the generous donors who attend this benefit to thank.
The students of Rocky Mountain College are the heart of this event. Donors attend and give money as an investment in students and their futures. As you can imagine, an event of such prestige does not happen overnight and cannot be achieved with the help of a just a few people.
“Our student volunteers are a vital part of the execution and success of Black Tie Blue Jeans. Without our student volunteers, hosting Black Tie Blue Jeans on our campus, would be impossible,” said Edwards.
Student volunteers are needed the night of the event to help with food service, monitoring the silent auction, valet parking, greeting, checking guests in and out, and coat check. Black Tie Blue Jeans offers a rare opportunity to see the faces behind scholarship money, faces of those who, for many of us, make a college education possible. Take advantage of the chance to show your appreciation by signing up to volunteer on the Black Tie Blue Jeans page on Rocky’s website. The event will take place on Friday, November 4th at Fortin Education Center, student volunteer times vary between 5:00 p.m.- 11:00 p.m. that evening.